Ligue 1: PSG set to struggle without star man Mbappe

James Eastham reveals the smart selections ahead of Wednesday night's final round of games of 2021 in France's top flight...

Strasbourg firepower key to victory

Clermont vs Strasbourg (16th vs 7th)
Live on Betfair Live Video
Wed, 20:00 GMT

Strasbourg are one of Ligue 1's most exciting attacking sides and the visitors will be confident of enjoying themselves against Clermont this week.

Thierry Laurey's visitors use a 5-3-2 system and the front players are pooled from three contenders, all of whom would walk into most Ligue 1 sides.

Ludovic Ajorque (pictured below), Habib Diallo and Kevin Gameiro are a danger against any opposition, as their stats show.

Between them the attacking trio have scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 this season, netting at a rate of a goal every 156 minutes.

Normally Ajorque starts, with one of the other two alongside him. Whichever of the trio is named among the substitutes is frequently dangerous off the bench towards the end of the game.

Promoted Clermont have been found wanting badly in recent weeks and have specific defensive issues heading into this game.

They won 1-0 at Angers last time out but were lucky to do so and that was their only victory in their last eight matches (W1-D1-L6).

Clermont's team news is a further blow: first-choice central defensive duo Cedric Hountondji and Florent Ogier are ruled out, as is first-choice back-up Jean-Claude Billong.

Without those three, a defence that would have struggled to contain Strasbourg's sharp shooters at full strength will be even more vulnerable.

Back Strasbourg to win at a good odds-against price.


The pressure's on Messi

Lorient vs PSG (19th vs 1st)
Live on BT Sport 2 and Betfair Live Video
Wed, 20:00 GMT

Kylian Mbappe is suspended here and that's the biggest factor in our selection of going low on goals.

The France international has been in stupendous form for club and country this season and PSG will be a lot less dangerous without him .

The birthday boy - he turned 23 this week - has scored nine times in 16 Ligue 1 appearances at a rate of a goal every 159 minutes.

He also has six goals in seven cup appearances, often carrying PSG almost single-handedly to victory.

With Neymar already sidelined, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria are the only superstar attackers available for PSG for this game.

Messi's form has been fitful since moving to the French capital so there are genuine questions about how PSG will fare with the seven times Ballon d'Or winner required to be the main inspiration.

Even if Messi plays well, Paris will undoubtedly be less dangerous in front of goal without Mbappe and that leads us to our selection.

It fair to predict the goals count will drop and PSG's games have not been as high-scoring as you might imagine even with Mbappe in the side.

PSG's 18 league games have averaged three goals a game. Seven games have had under three goals, five have had exactly three goals, and six have had four or more goals.

Mbappe's absence and the stats make Under 3.0 & 3.5 on the Goal Lines market a worthwhile selection.

Underrated Rennes the smart selection

Monaco vs Rennes (3rd vs 8th)
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video
Wed, 20:00 GMT

Monaco are clear favourites to win here yet it's hard to know why looking at the league table and the form of the two sides.

Monaco are 2.3 to collect all three points, with Rennes 3.35 and The Draw 3.6.

Yet Rennes are five places and five points above Monaco in the standings.

The two sides' respective home and away form doesn't explain the short odds on a Monaco win, either.

Monaco have won just four of the nine home games (W4-D3-L2) they've played at Stade Louis II. Significantly, all four of their home wins came against sides currently below Rennes in the standings, with three of the sides that Monaco beat - Bordeaux, Metz, St Etienne - currently in the bottom six.

Rennes have lost just two of their eight away games this season (W3-D3-L2), and those two losses came back in August and September.

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